Liquid crystal self-templating approach to ultrastrong and tough biomimic composites

Sci Rep. 2013;3:2374. doi: 10.1038/srep02374.


Materials with both high strength and toughness are in great demand for a wide range of applications, requiring strict design of ingredients and hierarchically ordered architecture from nano- to macro-scale. Nacre achieves such a target in the long natural evolution by alternative alignment of inorganic nanoplatelets and biomacromolecules. To mimic nacre, various strategies were developed, approaching nacre-comparable performance in limited size. How to remarkably exceed nacre in both property and size is a key issue to further the advancement of composites. Here we present liquid crystal self-templating methodology to make the next generation of ultrastrong and tough nacre-mimics continuously. The hierarchically assembled composites show the highest tensile strength (652 MPa) among nacre mimics, five to eight times as high as that of nacre (80-135 MPa), and excellent ductility with toughness of 18 MJ m(-3), one to two orders of magnitude greater than that of nacre (0.1 ~ 1.8 MJ m(-3)).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomimetic Materials / chemical synthesis*
  • Elastic Modulus
  • Hardness
  • Liquid Crystals / chemistry*
  • Materials Testing
  • Molecular Imprinting / methods*
  • Nacre / chemistry*
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Nanoparticles / ultrastructure*
  • Particle Size
  • Surface Properties


  • Nacre